A standard complaint about the European Union is that when a vote is lost then it is just held again until the “right” answer is reached. This was done with referenda in at least France, Holland and Ireland. Sticks were thrown in the spokes of varied pieces of further integration so they were just held again. This time with a bit more propaganda.
It is this which Speaker Bercow has not allowed to happen over Theresa May’s deal to try to leave the EU. And rightly so of course for we are Britain, a democracy, and we don’t do things that way. A vote is lost then, well, it’s lost. Come back with another idea. You can’t just keep bringing back the same motion for people to vote upon giving yourself an opportunity to twist a few arms and force it through. You’ve got the chance and if you lose, well, change.
Speaker John Bercow has thrown the UK’s Brexit plans into further confusion by ruling out another vote on the PM’s deal unless MPs are given a new motion. In a surprise ruling, he said he would not allow a third “meaningful vote” in the coming days on “substantially the same” motion as MPs rejected last week. With 11 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, ministers have warned of a looming “constitutional crisis”.
This is not a constitutional crisis, this is an assertion of the rules which make up our constitution.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were thrown into further turmoil on Monday when the speaker of parliament ruled that she could not put her divorce deal to a new vote unless it was re-submitted in fundamentally different form.
That’s just what you’ve got to do. Nope, you’ve asked them that and they said no. You’ve got to now ask a different question.
There is, of course, precedent in the very well-thumbed copies of Erskine May, the parliamentary rules, for the speaker’s decision. Quoting decisions as far back as 1604, John Bercow was quite clear that governments are not meant to be able to keep asking parliament the same question, in the hope of boring MPs into submission if they keep saying no.
Well, actually, it’s about making sure that government doesn’t have a chance to know exactly how many MPs they need to bribe to get it through. These days the price being a Knighthood or other such douceur rather than cash or a monopoly but it’s the same idea all the same.
Quite why anyone thought Bercow wouldn’t do this is the thing to be surprised at. After all, rather the point of this whole exercise is that we don’t do things as they do over on the Continent, isn’t it?